Friday, May 7, 2021
May 7, 2021

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Cheers & Jeers: New fire station; REAL-ID

The Columbian

Cheers: To a new fire station. The city of Vancouver is moving toward construction of Fire Station 11, just outside the city limits along Northeast 130th Avenue. The plan is part of a larger goal to improve response times for the Vancouver Fire Department.

The department aims to respond to at least 90 percent of urgent calls in less than eight minutes; in 2020, it responded to 90 percent of those calls within eight minutes, 23 seconds. The industry standard is six minutes. Staffing levels remain below the pre-recession levels of 2008, despite a growing population, and City Councilor Bart Hansen said: “I don’t think we’re meeting expectations with the staff that we have. We might need more staff.” For now, adding a station to an underserved area is a good step.

Jeers: To REAL ID. The federal government has once again extended the deadline for requiring strict identification to board a plane or enter a federal facility. In many states — including Washington — the parameters for acquiring a driver’s license do not meet the REAL ID specifications. That would have states revamping their driver’s license qualifications or require travelers to have additional identification — such as a passport. The deadline for implementation now has been pushed back to May 2023.

Jeers are warranted for the fact that the REAL-ID Act was passed in 2005 — 18 years before the updated deadline. If implementation is essential for national security, the requirements should be enacted. If not — which apparently is the case — the program should be dropped.

Cheers: To investing. Russell Wilson and his wife, pop star Ciara, surprised some students this week by investing in their future. During a virtual visit, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback told 900 students at a Seattle middle school that the couple is starting savings accounts for them and providing each with $40 in seed money.

“I hear that you guys are doing some really amazing stuff around financial literacy and building wealth,” Wilson said. “Ciara and I really want to talk to you all because we didn’t come from much. We had big visions, we had big goals, big dreams.” The students can’t touch the money until the turn 18; along the way, they can learn about saving, investing and how money can grow.

Jeers: To drought. Although April was delightfully sunny with mild temperatures, that does not bode well for the summer. All regions in Washington are experiencing varying degrees of drought, as noted during a discussion between Pacific Northwest climate experts this week.

Precipitation is forecast to remain below average at least through July, meaning that rain-supplied streams could dry up and forests will be ripe for a harsh wildfire season. We will enjoy the pleasant weather while we can, but hope it is not a harbinger for a difficult summer.

Cheers: To second thoughts. A Portland auction house has withdrawn the sale of a dagger purportedly once owned by Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler. The company had hoped to sell the relic for up to $12,000 but community outrage — and international attention — led to a change of plans. The auction house also said it would not traffic any Nazi memorabilia.

As reported: “Items used or touched by high-ranking Nazis have become collectibles in part because of the admiration of racists devoted to grotesque, lost-cause fantasies.” While there is room for discussing “cancel culture,” there should be no debate that Nazis are worthy of cancellation.